This is a really cool device and project. I can imagine many other uses for the AirDog beyond sport practice... but the I really like it because it makes me recall some videogame heroes ;-)
But I'm a bit concerned about the legal issues around using drones. In Spain, the Government plans to establish a new "drone driving license": you must be a certified "drone pilot" in order to fly your own device.
Just an example: this week a guy was fined for using a drone in order to record the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona's Sanfermines.
I'm with you, ooh I want one, I don't even care if it's not shiny and I'll just turn off that cricket in my ear :-) I got a regular helicopter that has a still camera and it's already easy to fly, these smart drones are even easier. I think Spain has other nefarious concerns in mind. Personally it would be fairer if they stated the conditions under which they may be flown, like not at kids play grounds and so on.
:-) My biggest concern is unguarded blades. Some such as the Parrot have guards around the blades which adds to weight and therefore reduces flying time, but make them much safer. I must say thought these autonomous drones could have collision avoidance etc. included and just shut the blades off as soon as altitude/clearance conditions aren't met. A friend of mine has a chopper with 1.5m blade span that would likely take someone's head off if something went wrong. He carefully choses his location.
It's funny how the government regulation of what is essentially just another kind of model aircraft has developed.
Privately owned remotely controlled planes in one form or another have existed for the past 50 years or so without too much fanfare.
If one reduces this to the absurd, well, a paper-airplane is a model aircraft, and it's controlled (but not very well) by which office window you choose to throw it out of and in which direction.
Now, let's assume this thing has a nanotech RF video transmitter on it and a teeny-tiny camera. Is it a drone? Must it be licensed?
Is a hollow, transparent soccer-ball with a shock-mounted transmitter camera inside also a drone?
What if one has an autonomous navigating robot made with LEGO EV3, or a raspberry pi, and some 3rd party addons, and this thing drives around long distances by itself, does it need to be licensed?
What about semi-autonomous underwater ROVs?
Will privately owned robots of all kinds need to be licensed and operated by licensed operators soon?
I do think it would be a good idea for someone operating one for profit, and in and around public places to need to carry some 3rd party liability insurance, but I also think it should be perfectly okay to fly anywhere away from people, and below civil-aviation minimum heights, as it is now in most of the world.
The world landmass is a very big place, most of it remote, and the sky and sea are even bigger, and even more remote. How far does government need to reach before it is satisfied?
"Just an example: this week a guy was fined for using a drone in order to record the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona's Sanfermines."
Ahh, the logic of government. General public possibly gored by a bull? No probs. But oh, you have a drone? You're a criminal, because something MIGHT go wrong.
@Joe.Sleator.... everthing you say is true if you start from an assumption that everyone does this for their enjoyment, and people just want to take aerial photos of thie houses or the bulls at San Fermin or whatever.
Tell that to the lady who's just stepped out of her bathroom and sees a copter outside her window with a camera pointing at her. Or someone who gets injured by one of these things coming too close or colliding with another one and falling on them (bound to happen if it hasn't already).
It's the old story....the actions of the 1 or 2 percent of idiots ruin it for the 98-99% who are responsible, Do you think we should scrap driving licences? No? then there's a case for licencing these things and their controllers as well. And hit the idiots hard if they hassle anyone else.
Great points, David. Everything you say is also true except that all the crimes you mention are already illegal. Using a drone as the means doesn't make them better or worse.
We don't need several distinct laws for driving while intoxicated, for murder, robbery, etc. which modify the crime according to the means by which is was committed. Red car, blue car, fists, spoons, cricket-bats, salt shakers, all the same crimes.
Armed robbery is still armed robbery whether you use a privately owned bipedal robot, drone, or yourself with a weapon of some kind.
So, all the crimes the idiots have committed, reckless endangerment, sexual assault, etc, don't necessarily need to be separate crimes simply because they include "by means of a drone". That smacks of the fallacy of criminalizing a thing rather than the criminal use of the thing.
Far more people are injured worldwide by reckless bicyclists that will probably ever be injured by privately owned drone accidents. Yet there is no special law or license just for bicycles, other than most countries requiring safety equipment and either expressly premitting or forbidding them on certain footpaths. Generally the worst penalty that happens in Sydney is a ~$75 or so fine.
They have never been required to be licensed in Australia, and yet operate in VERY close proximity with both pedestrians and motor vehicles, at high speeds, continuously, unlike drones. So if we're in a hurry to license the operation of all potentially hazardous things, I think the best gains would be had by going after idiots on pushbikes (and unlicensed motorized scooters) first.
If you run over someone with a bike, with intent to harm, that's assault, no different than using a baby-stroller or a shopping trolley, or a giant rock, or a drone.
I seriously doubt that anyone who intended to use drones for harming people or peeping through their windows would ever obtain a proper license for one, so mainly licensing would simply be another money-spinner for government, wouldn't it?
I'd also be more concerned that communications laws regarding RF wattage and bandwidth use by drones would be broken 1000 times more frequently than other sorts of drone-crimes. And again, there are already laws and licenses for RF communications use. Making a separate law (which adds needless overhead to an already overly complex legal system) just for RF naughtiness with a drone seems like a jobsworth scheme to me.
If you really think drones need licensing, what's your position on making their regulation more like firearms?
As with firearms, why not outlaw the importation of any article which could be used to assemble a drone, except by drone license-holders via a licensed drone-dealer. So, carbon fibre, digital autopilots, Lipo batteries, video cameras, power transistors, microcontrollers, brushless motors, small propellers, video transmitters, and radio-control equipment would all be subject to confiscation at the border and destruction without proper licensing and import paperwork in place by the importer, just as with gun parts.
If that weren't done, the unlicensed idiots and crims could easily just assemble their unlicensed drone from parts and wreak further drone mayhem unchecked.
@Joe....Good points. I think I have got into the Australian mentality that licencing or regulating something will make the problems go away :-) It does not of course, though it does make it marginally easier to find the idiots. The problem is that when they do find one they let them go with a slap on the wrist rather than something which will make them really think. Maybe what is needed is legislation specifying penalites including destruction of the idiot's drone, something like the car hoon laws in some Australian states. But this applies to most things - in most of the rest of the world, not just Australia. This is True calls them obliviots (oblivious idiots) and we have to find a way of getting rid of them....or at least getting some sense into them....
What licensing would do is make sure that anyone iwth a legal drone MUST have an idea of what you can and can't do with them. And give you the opportunity to confiscate drones from obliviots who are too stupid, lazy or malicious to get licensed.
@Joe.Sleator: "Ahh, the logic of government. General public possibly gored by a bull? No probs. But oh, you have a drone? You're a criminal, because something MIGHT go wrong."
Joe, if you try to combine "logic" & "government" in Spain, your brain will be in a serious risk of melting ;-)
Anyway, in Spain you only need to ask a question to get enlightened about weird laws: where is the money?? The Running of the Bulls & other "erratic" behaviours (too much drugs, loads of alcohol, sexual harrassment...) at Sanfermin is all about money and massive low quality tourism. The drone driving license issue at Spain is the same, the Government try to get some extra money.
Of course, R&D and Progress are consired a cost, wasted money, not a long term investment... so sad, but so real :-(
I live in Australia and we have special insurance requirements for helicopters above a certain blade size and model aircraft above some critera (wingspan or prop width??), and controls on when and where they can be flown. Quadrocopters aren't quite as dangerous but the exposed blade ones are more so than small RC planes etc. I'm not sure what the right formula is but some things do need to be considered to find a balance between enjoyment and safety.
Bummer. My MillionDollarIdea (#4,762) has been lost!
_I_ was envisioning a blimp-based (long hang-time) "follower" to
1) carry a flashlight for me (like in the "Dune" movie with Kyle McLachlin), and
2) take movies like a police "dash-cam." 3) "stationkeep" at height to mark a location for me until I can get there.
Damn, Max. You should buy one. It doesn't matter, whether you do extreme sports or not. This is, the ultimate selfie video cam, I think. There will be a huge demand! Think about it. This could help you remember what you did today. (not that you need that help...)
Before there were nifty quadrotors (which I love) we had methanol-nitromethane (and later electric) miniature helicopters. Not these $25 things you get in malls. These went high, and fast, and you could control them completely, upside-down, backwards, basically in any direction at all. Anyway they still exist, but the market-share is being subsumed by quads, hexes, octas, and the like, with varying degrees of automation, telemetry, and video recording and downlink.
So, the way it used to be, the "extreme sport" was just getting it all working and flying it safely around.
I bought a B&W C-mount lense philips surveillance camera in about 1988 and mounted it on my Schluter Mini-Boy, which was an all-aluminium methanol burning contraption from Germany. A great little helicopter.
I used to describe it as "a fast 3-D dog you could take for walks". Of course, most of the adventure was just controlling the thing and avoiding obstacles.
Later, I was flying an electric one in the park with a video transmitter, and had an interesting experience with a REAL DOG!
This fellow was naturally inquisitive, turned up right out of nowhere, and also somewhat bloodthirsty. He thought the heli would make a nice lunch. He was also solid muscle. A pig-dog like this picture.
Well, it turned out that he had more battery-reserve than the heli did. It got to the time where I was worrying about running out of juice, and hovering down hear the ground, but he'd just run up under it, and then LEVITATE right towards it and chomp his teeth at it in mid-air. You could hear his teeth chomping right over the sound of the rotors!
If you went to fly some distance, stop, and then hover down to land, it wound up taking exactly the same amount of time as it took this little powerhouse to run to the same spot and start levitating again with those 150 pound jaws of his.
The main concern was, of course, him succeeding in bagging the chopper and getting chopped by the blades, as model helicopters are much more replaceable than pets, and carbon-fibre can cause nasty cuts, and isn't very nutritious, either, for a lively pup.
The owner wasn't much help. Amid all the mayhem, the owner stood back and mumbled "here, Buster, don't do that...". Asking the owner politely to restrain the fellow for his own safety also didn't seem to help.
So, on to the "extreme sport" part. What I had to do to avoid both losing the chopper and chopping the dog was hover the thing right overhead, then lower the collective slightly and catch it just right by the skids out of dog-range while simultaneously letting go of the controller. I found this very frightening at the time. Especially after I caught the thing, and it was angrily whirring away, trying to keep flying. Luckily a foot was free and I nudged the collective to "off" and disconnected the LiPo. Alternatively, I could have crash-landed into a tree or landed on a rooftop, or hovered over a pond for a bit, but there were no likely candidates nearby.
So, yes, this gizmo is a great idea, but anybody who gets one might want to watch out for REAL dogs when using it. But who knows, a well-trained dog might be able to make a great asset for playing with the air-dog. Put a go-pro on the airdog, and have it follow the earth-dog, or vice-versa and see who runs out of battery first.